The future will be won by the few who successfully predict it and the many who skillfully respond to it.
The former will win mostly by accident, the latter by design.
The Freakonomics guys recently did an excellent podcast on the folly of prediction:
Philip Tetlock conducted a long-running experiment that asked nearly 300 political experts to make a variety of forecasts about dozens of countries around the world. After tracking the accuracy of about 80,000 predictions over the course of 20 years, Tetlock found that they didn’t do much better than random guessing.
The podcast goes on to mention similar studies of NFL pundits, economic crash predictors, and crop yield forecasters, all with the same conclusion: more times than we like to admit, successful predictions happen by way of luck.
Of course, there is value in prediction. Part of leadership is making bold predictions that inspire action and get people to take risks.
But I think predictors should be a little more humble when they get something right, and a little more accountable when they get something wrong.
More importantly, shine the light on the responders. Aggressively reward and celebrate open mindedness and a willingness to change.
Because in a modern world, where the future is complex, fast, and quickly changing, agility is the only reliable strategy for success.